Good movie? No, just an “Apparition”

the apparition

The Apparition

dir. Todd Lincoln

Release Date: Aug 24, 12

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The following is a transcript from inside a late-in-production meeting about The Apparition between writer-director Todd Lincoln and a producer, inside the corporate headquarters for Warner Bros. Pictures:

Producer: Listen, Mr. Lincoln, we have some concerns about the dailies you’ve sent us.

Lincoln: Like what? Production is running smoothly, under budget and slightly ahead of schedule, and everybody on the set is getting along great!

Producer: Well, when The Apparition was pitched to us in-house, we wanted a minimalist thriller about a malevolent spirit torturing a young couple in a house in post-subprime crisis suburbia. Kind of like Paranormal Activity, but glossier and with enough of a budget for more CGI. We even got you some built-in stars from the Twilight (Ashley Greene) and Harry Potter (Tom Felton) franchises for the PG-13 audience we wanted. Granted, we had to skimp on the third lead (Sebastian Stan).

Lincoln: You’re telling me. He looks like the K-Mart version of Michael Pitt. Plus, if this is his method acting, I think he’s trying to enact constipation more than anything.

Producer: We know. Anyway, our concern is that, so far, the film feels pretty boring.

Lincoln:  How so? I think the metaphor of vapid suburban life is rather effective.

Producer: Well, it just feels pretty…contrived, I suppose? Though, at least contrived means you’ve shown a basic competence for building a jump scare and it’s generally a run-of-the-mill horror flick. What you’ve done is closer to what it would look like if an alien with a tenuously basic grasp on human behavior tried to write a horror movie after two days on Earth.

Lincoln: While I understand your concerns, I’m a bit insulted. I think we have some really innovative touches here. After all, we’re using the famous séance trope and putting a lot of science into it, like on one of those ghost hunter shows that’ve taken over the History Channel. How does that opening not hook you?

Producer: It doesn’t hook me because it’s shot really poorly, to the point where you can’t see what’s going on. That extends to most of your ending, too, as it currently exists. Also, we’re running out of time. How are you going to fill all the plot holes?

Lincoln: I mean, I was thinking I’d just add some flashbacks. We have those great opening scenes, might as well get some mileage out of them.

Producer:  I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know we did it with Jonah Hex, but that’s not really something we encourage our directors to emulate. Plus, that’d involve at least three different callbacks to things that happened a half hour earlier.

Lincoln: I mean, yeah. But what about Ashley? She has the scream queen thing down pat.

Producer: I guess so. Did you at least work the Costco endorsement in?

Lincoln: Absolutely. They spend a full five minutes there shopping and discussing cacti at the beginning of the film. We even managed to build it into the last scene.

Producer: Good, good. Also, I think there’s something wrong with the music. It doesn’t really pop, so nothing happening seems scary enough to justify her panic. Her boyfriend also doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the evil spirit following them around. Plus, you have a bunch of red herrings that seem to go nowhere, or pay off with a whimper.

Lincoln: (long sign) Alright. Let me level with you. You guys have given me nothing to work with. I’ve managed to shoot this well enough, but you’re expecting me to get a hell of a lot out of uncontrollable doors, killer blankets (that whole scene is kind of creepy and fetishistic, by the way) and a blurry dude who wants to feel up the sixth most recognizable actress from Twilight. I can only do so much with a script that shrugs about everything from killer mildew (seriously, killer goddamn mildew?) to a neighbor’s dog dying. Hell, once we get to final edits, I’m probably going to have to kill that dog, like, ten minutes into the movie just to keep the thing moving. What do you want me to do?

Producer: Hm. Valid points all around. I’ll tell you what. Just get the film done, and we’ll put it out through our Dark Castle arm at the end of summer. People expect anything with that production crawl in the credits to suck.

Lincoln: Well, I for one enjoyed Orphan.